WNBA Power Rankings: Sparks take the top spot, while rival Lynx start to heat up
The Sparks take over the first place in the power rankings and first place in the WNBA standings
First of all, what a strange schedule last week. There were five games on Tuesday, six games on Friday, five games on Sunday and no games on the four other days. And honestly that's not great. There's not that many games every week, and to have them all crammed into four or five hour blocks on three days didn't make for an enjoyable viewing experience. Anyway, on to this week's' topic.
The time has come to discuss Las Vegas Aces rookie A'ja Wilson. Just 14 games into her career, she's already established herself as not only one of the league's best bigs, but best players, period. Given Wilson's size, skill and athleticism, there were no concerns about whether she could handle the pro game. But that she's been so, frankly, dominant at times so early in her career is remarkable.
Averaging 20.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, she's fourth in scoring, third in rebounding and seventh in blocks. Not among rookies -- among all players. When you filter it to just rookies, she's first in all of those categories, and by a wide margin.
Wilson has scored in double figures in every single game of her career, has five double-doubles, and earlier this week recorded a 25-point, 16-rebound, six-assist performance in the Aces' win over the Storm. Oh, and a few weeks ago she became just the second rookie ever to put up at least 35 points and 10 rebounds in a game, when she dropped 35 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks on the Fever. The only other rookie to do that? Candace Parker.
She's already running away with the Rookie of the Year Award -- though Kelsey Mitchell in Indiana is giving her a decent competition -- and should be the first rookie to make the All-Star Game since Shoni Schimmel back in 2014.
1. Los Angeles Sparks (10-3) -- Up 1
Few things in the league are more exciting than Riquna Williams catching fire, and we got a throwback performance on Sunday. The veteran guard -- who holds the WNBA record for points in a game with 51 -- went 7 of 9 from 3-point land on her way to a season-high 25 points, the most she's scored in a game since back in August 2015, when she played for the Tulsa Shock.
2. Seattle Storm (10-4) -- Up 1
Boy, do the Storm just look absolutely dominant when things are clicking, such as when they clobbered the Wings by 21 on Sunday. Winners of four of their last five, Seattle has jumped into second-place in the league, but they'll have their work cut out to stay there. Their next three games are against the red-hot Lynx, the Sparks and the Sun.
3. Phoenix Mercury (10-5) -- Down 2
After rattling off eight-straight wins, the Mercury have cooled off a bit as of late. There shouldn't be too much cause for concern though. One of the losses came to a Lynx team that has regained its mojo, and the other -- to the Sky -- likely doesn't happen if Brittney Griner isn't ejected. Even with the mini two-game losing streak, they're still 10-5, and just one game back of the first-place Sparks.
4. Washington Mystics (8-5) -- Up 2
The Mystics were blessed with two games against the Sky this week, and they did not waste the opportunity. After a 28-point win at home on Tuesday, they went to Chicago and ran it back with a 26-point win on Friday. Also, it was nice to see Tayler Hill make her return from ACL surgery.
5. Minnesota Lynx (7-6) -- Up 3
Well then. The Lynx are certainly back on track. They've now won four games in a row to move above .500 for the first time since they were 2-1 early in the season. Most impressively, they put a stop to the Mercury's eight-game winning streak, beating their rivals by 11 down in Phoenix.
6. Connecticut Sun (8-5) -- Down 2
Coming into Sunday's game against the Fever, Rachel Banham had made just nine 3-pointers all season. So it came as a bit of a surprise when she went 5 of 5 from downtown on her way to a career-high 20 points in the Sun's win. That victory snapped a four-game losing streak, but was further proof that they desperately need Alyssa Thomas back.
7. Dallas Wings (6-6) -- Down 1
Like a number of teams in the middle of the pack, the Wings have struggled to find consistency this season. And nothing exemplifies that like beating the first-place Sparks by 29, then turning around to lose to the Storm by 21, which the Wings did this week.
8. Atlanta Dream (7-6) -- Down 1
Congrats to the Dream for holding the incredibly rare distinction of simultaneously having the league's best defense and worst offense. That is a truly impressive feat. Unfortunately, it makes their games… well… boring.
9. Las Vegas Aces (5-10) -- No movement
Things are starting to come together for the young Aces. A'ja Wilson continues to be dominant, Kayla McBride is heating up and Moriah Jefferson was cleared to return to practice. Oh, and they went 2-1 this week and are 4-3 in their last seven games. There's been a lot to like lately in Las Vegas.
10. New York Liberty (4-8) -- No movement
It is just not happening for the Liberty this season. One wonders if perhaps Katie Smith should tighten up the rotation and create some more defined roles. This is in part due to some early season injuries, but all 12 players are currently averaging at least 9.9 minutes per game.
11. Chicago Sky (4-9) -- No movement
A surprising upset win over the Mercury not only helped the Sky avoid the bottom spot in the rankings this week, but ended a rough six-game losing streak. The last two of those losses came by at least 26 points, as their defense continues to be historically bad.
12. Indiana Fever (1-13) -- No movement
Three more losses have dropped the Fever to 1-13 on the season, which is a shame, because it doesn't feel as though they've played that poorly. Regardless, it's been nice to see Natalie Achonwa enjoy a breakout season. She's putting up career-highs in all major stat categories.
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